Lately one of my fears surrounding getting super emotional over my trauma stuff is that I’ll dissociate and self injure. The last time I cut (back in December), I was arguing with my husband and he took my daughter from me and went outside with her. I dissociated. I vaguely recall dragging a chef knife across my arm and then the next thing I know, I’m upstairs in the shower, my whole arm is covered in cuts, and I’m pressing a razorblade into my arm so hard that I can tell it’s going to need stitches. I dropped the blade in the shower and quickly got out and grabbed a towel. I have no memory of what happened from that first cut with the chef knife and that last cut in the shower that should’ve gotten stitches. The other 20-something cuts in between are a mystery.
Dissociation is scary. I would say the big instances like that never get less scary. I was in a dissociative state the last time I tried to kill myself (over 10 years ago). When I was in high school, I used to dissociate in class all the time and eventually I would go to the bathroom and cut myself just so I wouldn’t be in that dissociative state anymore. Just so I could feel something.
In the past year, along with my trauma work, I’ve been working very hard to recognize when dissociation is about to happen and preventing it. I can often prevent it from occur by working to stay present through breathing exercises (counting inhales and exhales – in 5, out 7 works best for me). I also run through my five senses: name something I see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Squeezing play-doh also gives me something tangible to help my mind stay in the present moment.
Even with all of those skills, dissociation still happens. When my anxiety is high or my trauma stuff becomes intense, dissociation occurs more frequently and for longer durations.
Today in marriage counseling, I planned to go through a list of things that I need from my husband surrounding my trauma stuff and the challenges I face managing that along with the rest of life on life’s terms. In a few weeks, I’m supposed to talk to him about some of the basic details around my sexual abuse trauma memories. Anyway, so I’m going through the list and he says that he and I already had this conversation. He proceeds to talk about all of the things on my list and how he is going to work harder to be understanding and supportive. I literally had NO recollection of having this conversation with him prior to our session. The details he gave were too specific for him to be making it up, which means I must have had the conversation with him when I was in a dissociative state earlier this week. What the fuck?!?! How many other conversations am I having with people without realizing it?!?! There is seriously very little that scares me as much as that – being in a dissociative state and doing things and not remembering it.
I would love to never dissociate again. I wonder if that’s even a possibility for someone like me.
PS: Spent some much needed time in legs up the wall tonight. Check out my awesome fun pants 😃